Introductory Note:

Fewer things give us more pleasure than introducing something by Lacy Finn Borgo. Lacy, as you may remember, is a Renovaré Ministry Team member and the author of the beloved children’s Christian spiritual formation curriculum, Life with God for Children, as well as several family devotionals.

Below is an excerpt from one of those devotionals, Good Dirt: Advent, Christmastide & Epiphany. To find this book as well as more Renovaré recommended Advent and Christmas books and music, please visit our resource page. Enjoy!

Renovaré Team

Excerpt from Good Dirt: Advent, Christmastide & Epiphany (Volume 1)

I hear the laments of parents. I am a lamenting parent. Christmas is too much about the stuff. The stuff begins to clog up the supermarket aisles as early as September. My kids are bombarded by ads trying to get them, to get me, to want to buy them their hearts’ desires of shiny junk. 

As a Christian I want to celebrate the birth of Jesus in a way that honors him. Advent is four weeks of preparation for the King of creation. When we put it that way it almost seems that four weeks isn’t long enough. Blue is the color for the season, specifically royal blue as my eldest daughter reminds me, because Jesus is the King. 

I admit sometimes I forget that. 

With all the advertisements and the meals to prepare and the ever-present Christmas music, I can hardly think. I can hardly remember. Advent is preparation, it’s remembering; remembering that royal blue is for a royal King. With all the distraction that is modern life, plus the added distraction of Christmas, we need ways to remember.

Several years ago at Ridgeland Community Church, some saintly ladies taught me the importance of Advent. They tutored my non-crafty” self through the process of making an Advent wreath. They taught me the significance of preparation for the Christ Child. I am forever grateful. Through the practice of Advent I learned to lean in and celebrate this blessed holiday. During those first few years of practicing Advent it was just my husband and me, and surprisingly, we never fought over who got to blow out the candles. Now, my children take turns to see who gets to blow candle wax all over the table. Advent is a staple in our home. It is a practice that grounds us to the truths of Jesus. There are other practices for Advent as well. Pick a few and give them a try this Advent season. Here are a few practices to try:

Try Fasting

Fasting during the Holiday Season? Yes! Fasting has been used as a tool for thousands of years to help us listen. By turning off other things we open our hearts and minds to God who longs to whisper his great love to those who will listen. There are many ways and many things that we can fast to prepare for the royal Baby.

  • This time of year strikes fear in the minds of all parents who have the foresight to consider all the sugar their children are about to ingest. As a family, save all sweets for Sunday. Sundays are traditionally celebration days, even during a time of fasting. Every Sunday we celebrate the resurrection – and what better way to taste and see that the Lord is good” than by sav­ing the sweets for Sunday? Remember we are moving counter-clockwise” to our culture. Here in the season of Advent, we actively wait.
  • Fast from media when all family members are together. Evenings are usually the best time for most families. You can replace the usual TV time with a seasonal fun activity, a family game, or read together. Try The Story of the Other Wise Man.
  • Two Saturdays during Advent eat rice and beans only. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Discuss what it must be like to have this every day. Decide as a family on a charity you would like to work with during the holidays. Volunteer at a soup kitchen.
  • Give up your gifts. Fast from giving gifts to each other this year. Instead, use the money to buy gifts for a family in your community who has very little. Plan a covert operation to drop off the gifts without being caught. Spend all four weeks of Advent planning.

Just Say Slow

This time of year is the busiest. Gifts to buy, parties to attend, food to make, and that is in addition to work, school, and kids. On our continent, creation has taken its cues from the earth and is slowing down. During Advent, the first signs of winter come. The trees are brown, animals are hibernating, and the sun sets earlier. There is more dark than light. Dark gives the signal to our bodies – slow down, reflect, and savor. It never makes sense to go against God’s already established rhythm.

Advent is waiting time, where the air is literally pregnant with the presence of God. Like all pregnancies, too much stress and strain is not good for growing. So slow down, make the space each day to watch and wait as your family grows with Mary’s belly, ripe with the Christ child. I encourage you to change gears this year. Get off the holiday treadmill and savor those quiet moments of Advent. Say No, thanks,” to a few invitations and responsibilities. I’ve got a baby to wait for.”

What other practices might you and your family try? How might you talk about preparing together for Advent? What ideas do your children have for helping your family to focus on the coming of Jesus?

Excerpted from Good Dirt: Advent, Christmastide, and Epiphany and used with permission of the author.

Text First Published November 2013